ANR has been advocating for nonsmokers’ rights since 1976. In those four-plus decades, we have helped change the social norm about when and where people can smoke, leading the charge to make offices, restaurants, bars, and airplanes smokefree. As casinos expanded into more states, we recognized that employees in these workplaces also deserved safe, healthy, smokefree air. Today, 21 states, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, three Louisiana localities, and more than 160 Tribal casinos, are smokefree indoors. ANR is proud to have helped support and spur many of these changes to bring smokefree air to all.
Smokefree Indoor Air – Milestones Pave the Way
A combination of public demand and positive experiences and outcomes, along with research on the health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure and benefits of going smokefree, have fueled the nonsmokers’ rights movement. ANR strategically initiates change and encourages research, but at its heart, we advocate for common sense public health protections, sometimes before the research can catch up, and always in concert with those most impacted—the workers, the families, and the people who enter public spaces and workplaces.
2023 marks several important milestones:
January 7 – 30th anniversary of the landmark 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report on the health effects of passive smoking, which classified secondhand smoke (formerly referred to as Environmental Tobacco Smoke or ETS) as a Group A carcinogen known to cause cancer in humans.
February 25 – 33rd anniversary of Smokefree Skies, when all domestic flights eliminated smoking.
March 1 – ANR’s 47th year of advocating for smokefree air and our Day of Breathing.
The first ‘Heart Attack Study’ was released 20 years ago, demonstrating the immediate reduction in Acute Myocardial Infarctions (AMI’s) in response to a local smokefree law. The Helena (MT) Heart Study set off a series of other similar studies in cities, states, and countries, with all of them proving the immediate health benefit of smokefree indoor air laws.
Several local and state smokefree laws turn 20 this year: Pueblo, Greeley, and Fort Collins, CO; Lexington, KY; Boston, MA; Maryville, MO; Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York City, and NY state; and FL law by voter initiative. And there have been many other accomplishments since then! Currently, 62.5% of the U.S. population is protected by a state or local smokefree workplace, restaurant, or bar law.
Where are we going in 2023?
Everyone left without protections are a priority, but with limited resources, we must prioritize. We have significant momentum from the groundwork laid the last two years, some of which we are optimistic will become realities this year.
On February 13, we finally will have our first informational hearing in the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee to discuss the benefits of smokefree casinos. CEASE workers will be in attendance to testify and demonstrate the need and demand to permanently restore smokefree protections for casino workers.
On March 1, Nashville will implement its smokefree law, which makes most age-restricted/21+ venues smokefree. See details here to join ANR “live from Nashville” for this implementation event. A Smokefree Knoxville coalition has been formed and has its eyes on a smokefree prize later this year.
A Pennsylvania State Representative has introduced legislation to close loopholes in the 2008 clean indoor air law including a provision for smokefree casinos.
The Bad News
There are also several bills that threaten existing smokefree provisions in a number of states including Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, West Virginia, and Tennessee, and some that aim to allow onsite indoor use of cannabis/marijuana including California, Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia to name a few.
Smokefree in 2023!
Thanks to ANR supporters and donors, we have sustained strong and well-organized campaigns that have gained traction and increasingly become nationally recognized as an important movement to protect the health of all workers. Many thanks to the very recent donors who helped us provide support to get CEASE to Trenton.
With your continued support, we can get strong smokefree legislation across the finish line and counter the tobacco industry threats against our smokefree gains.
Please consider participating in our March 1st Day of Breathing via our online activities (see me live in Tennessee as we implement the new law!). Or by honoring our 47 years of work with a generous gift to help us secure important wins now and the rest of the year.
Please contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss how you can leave a Legacy gift to ANR. You are a critical piece of our history and smokefree future. It is a pleasure to be in this movement with you!